Chrome just introduced a powerful new accessibility tool — here's how it works

Google Chrome Live Captions on a video of a dog
(Image credit: Google)

Chrome 89 is rolling out to users and the browser update brings a number of helpful upgrades including reduced RAM usage for macOS users. The latest feature announced is a huge win for accessibility.

Chrome 89 includes a new Live Captions feature that will provide instant captions for any video or audio content played through your browser (via The Verge).

The feature will work on virtually any content online that has an audio component, whether you have the audio turned on or not. This includes videos shared on social media, personal videos on services like Google Photos, or strictly audio content like podcasts or radio. 

I spent some time testing the feature and it holds up quite well in most circumstances. It can get behind when the person on screen talks quickly, and it takes it a bit to adjust if you are scrubbing through the video or audio, however, I didn't run into that issue too often, and it is somewhat avoidable. 

The captioning all happens on your device so it will still work even if you are offline and playing back local audio or video through Chrome. The box itself can be moved or expanded as you like and there are various settings for transparency, font and size to customize it to your exact preferences. As long as you have updated to Chrome 89 you can enable Live Captions right now to try it out yourself.

How to turn on Live Captions in Chrome

  • Click on the overflow menu (3 vertical dots) in the upper-right corner of Chrome
  • Select Settings
  • Open Advanced in the left column
  • Select Accessibility
  • Toggle Live Caption to the on position
  • (Optional) Click on Caption preferences to make changes to the caption style
Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.